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Hiding taste of high alcohol content

I am developing a beer recipe with a really light body (like a wheat beer) with a moderate hop profile and a really high alcohol content. Once primary fermentation dies down I’m going to continue to add sugar to increase the alcohol content. Not sure how much I will add, but eventually the alcohol content will cause the yeast to die down so I’ll probably throw in some champagne yeast. I’m just having fun and playing around with ingrediants.

I know there are ways in the brewing process to cover up a high alcohol taste. I was wondering if anyone has ideas to do this. Would it be better to mash at a higher temp to have more unfermentable/residual sugars? Increase the hop profile?

Looking forward to hearing your ideas. Cheers :cheers:

A couple things come to mind:

1.) Add more unfermentable sugar (crystal malt, etc…)
2.) Mash at a higher temperature
3.) Increase IBU with hops
4.) Use oak chips to oak the excess alcohol
5.) Add fruit to secondary
6.) Add hops late in boil to increase sweetness

Most of these sound inappropriate for a wheat beer, but let us know how it turns out.

Adding for crystals would be counter productive to having a light body beer.

Having made a 17% mead (by accident) that didn’t burn you throat as you drank it, I can tell you having a FG in the 1.030 range helps cut the alcohol. Turns out like a brandy.

My suggestion is to skip the champagne yeast addition at first. Max out the beer yeast and see how it tastes in the 10-12% range dry. Then add more sugar to up the FG.

Maybe split the batch and add champagne to 1/2 of it?

Only one thing comes to my mind: Yuck!

Make a nice wheat beer, have a shot of vodka and chase with the beer.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]Make a nice wheat beer, have a shot of vodka and chase with the beer.[/quote]Boilermaker it.

As I’m writing this, I’m enjoying a glass of pinot grigio that was left in my fridge by some visiting friends. As you likely know, pinot grigio is anything but hairy chested. It’s the chick beer of the wine world.

But if we think about my pinot grigio in beer terms–specifically the terms you described above–it’s pretty similar to what you’re aiming for. My pinot is very, very light in body but in beer terms clocks in at a hairy chested 13.5%. Yet there’s no alcohol burn to hide, just a bit of restrained fruit and a bit of alcohol dryness to clean up the finish and make the wine refreshing and quaffable. In other words, I don’t think you need to worry about alcohol burn…provided you ferment cool and keep the fusels firmly in check.

I think the first thing we need to figure out is what your grain bill will look like. There are a lot of ways to skin this cat, we need to delimit what your goals are. We could up the grain bill and dump a generous amount of sugar into an American Pale Ale, pump up a Trippel a bit, or imperial-ize a witt or a hefe by adding sugar and land in the neighborhood you’re shooting for. We could also just call it good and brew a big Saison…

Next, we need to figure out how we’re going to flavor this thing. The key to my pinot grigio’s refreshingness was it’s pairing of fruit and alchohol dryness. Your grain bill is going to be very dry, so that rules out your grain bill as a primary source of flavor. That leaves you with yeast, hops, and spices as your flavor sources. I’m going to rule out Trappist yeasts, if you were thinking along those lines, you likely wouldn’t have asked this question, likewise Saison. If I were you, I’d go with Pac-Man, 1056, or a dry English yeast. I’ve flirted with Alt or Steam yeast, I’ve never given either a shot. They have the horsepower, so it’s worth considering.

If you go the hops route, I’d look at a clean bittering hop and a back-loaded hop charge. Soriachi Ace and Amarillo will get you something really fruity, as will the new Kiwi hops. I think boring old EKGs are brilliant summer ale hops and I frequently use them in a sigle hop capacity in my big summer ales. Paired with Northern Brewer’s minty-ness, EKGs are a pleasant break from today’s push toward ever fruitier hops. Think iced tea in an Orange Crush world.

The spice route is huge and complex, I’ll keep my remarks brief. Fresh grapefruit zest is good stuff and give lavender a chance, it’s a sorely overlooked brewing spice. Like chamomile, lavander has the same “un-tasteable” thing that makes a good beer into a really interesting beer. I’m a huge advocate of .25-.5oz in wits. At your strength, I’d think about a full oz.

Although I’m from the West Coast, I live on the East Coast, so brewing a light, strong beer for the summer is a going concern. Given the miserably hot and sticky nights out here, “yuck” is the last thing that crosses my mind when thinking about the beer you’re after. I hope that I’ve helped you to focus your ideas about this beer and am eager to see what you come up with. Good luck with this project, brewing light and strong takes some getting used to, but it’s a blast once you get the hang of it. :cheers:

do you know if anything commercially available that you cant taste alcohol at a high content…I don’t.

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